Recent Op-Eds

The talk coming out of Washington about creating jobs is all well and good, but the truth is that since passage of the stimulus bill last year, the government has only shown an ability to create government jobs. Real, sustained job growth comes from the private sector, particularly small businesses. If Congress and the Obama administration are serious about putting people back to work, helping small businesses grow and create jobs is the natural place to focus our efforts.

Small businesses create between 60 and 80 percent of all new jobs in America. This is a rate of efficiency that the federal government can never hope to match. Unfortunately, last year’s stimulus bill, which was incorrectly promoted by the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress as a job creator because it would keep unemployment below eight percent, did little to promote small business growth. In fact, the unemployment rate now stands at 9.7 percent and less than one percent of the $862 billion stimulus bill was dedicated to small business tax relief.

The majority of the spending authorized in the stimulus bill remains unspent and unobligated, despite the promises by its promoters that the assistance in the bill would be timely and targeted. This month, I offered an amendment to a tax bill in the Senate that would redirect a portion of this unspent money to meaningful small business tax relief. Under my amendment, small businesses would have had additional incentives to invest in needed machinery and supplies and to hire new workers. The amendment would also have promoted investment in small business by eliminating taxes on capital gains on small business investments – something with which even President Obama agrees. Unfortunately, my amendment was defeated because the Democrat majority claimed that it was inappropriate to redirect unspent stimulus funding toward small business incentives because “the stimulus bill is working.” Although my bipartisan amendment was defeated, I plan to continue looking for ways to assist small businesses in South Dakota and across the country.

As a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, I am actively involved in issues relating to small business owners and employees in South Dakota. This month, I offered an amendment to a bill moving through the committee that would protect small businesses from unfair competition from the federal government. There are many services provided by small businesses that are at times provided by the government. My amendment would explicitly instruct federal agencies to work with small businesses, not crowd them out of the market. Such a policy would save taxpayers money, make the government more efficient, and give small businesses more opportunities to grow and hire more workers. My amendment was unanimously approved by the Small Business Committee, and it is now a part of the bill that should be considered by the full Senate.

Small businesses are the engines that drive job growth in South Dakota and across the country. Unfortunately, the federal government sometimes stands in the way of small businesses by crowding them out of the market or by failing to provide incentives for expansion and success. I am working in the Senate to address these issues, because I believe that South Dakota small businesses and others across the country can usher in a new era of prosperity. Small business growth is good for our economy and good for our communities; Congress must work to support that growth.